Day Eight: Helen Keller, A Life of Hope

Photo from here

“With the first word I used intelligently, I learned to live, to think, to hope. Darkness cannot shut me in again. I have had a glimpse of the shore, and can now live by the hope of reaching it.”

Helen Keller lived a remarkable life, full of hope. We know that Helen was blind and deaf because of a childhood illness. We also know that her first years were very difficult for her and for family.

In her essay “Optimism,” Keller describes those early years like this, “Once I knew the depth where no hope was, and darkness lay on the face of all things. Then love came and set my soul free. Once I knew only darkness and stillness. Now I know hope and joy. Once I fretted and beat myself against the wall that shut me in. Now I rejoice in the consciousness that I can think, act and attain heaven. My life was without past or future; death, the pessimist would say, ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished.’ But a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living. Night fled before the day of thought, and love and joy and hope came up in a passion of obedience to knowledge.”

My oldest son is reading The Miracle Worker in his Lit class. Do you remember what it was like when Annie Sullivan first showed up at their home? Helen was this wild child who would throw herself into massive tantrums. She hid poor Annie’s bedroom key. She threw food at the dinner table. Her parents were just on the brink of giving up. But slowly and methodically, Annie Sullivan worked with five year old Helen. It all seemed pointless, when one day they are at the water pump and it all clicks for Helen. Miss Sullivan spells w-a-t-e-r into her hand, while the water spills through her fingers. She suddenly understands that these letters connect to make words. These words connect to things. These things are apart of her everyday life. A door to hope opens!

Helen starts to live again. However, her life does not start afresh. She still has all the struggle of living in a world full of sights and sounds that she will never see or hear. So what does she do?

She finds HER way. She learns to experience the world through her remaining senses. She starts to teach Annie Sullivan how to show her new things. Together, they push through hardship and seeming impossibility with creative solutions.

Helen then goes on to become the first blind person to graduate from college! Think about that. That means the first blind person to ever graduate from college was also DEAF! Is that not the most incredible thing ever?

Please let that hope filled fact put some wind in your sails today. In the moment where you want to give in or believe you are not enough, please remember what Helen Keller was able to do. And, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

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Day Six: Emily Dickinson on Hope

Hope. 31 Days of Relishing Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune– without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet never in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

Day Five: Healing Hugs of Hope

Okay, I know this one has gone viral, but if you haven’t seen it. It’s worth a watch (through to the end, so you can see his reaction). Dom Tiberi is the sports director and anchor at a CBS affiliate in Columbus, OH. His 21 year old daughter, Maria, died in a car accident. On the day he returned to work, the OSU Football Team did this:

Day Four: Fresh Hope

Open a window to hope. 31 Days Relishing Hope

The other day, I had one of those medical tests that just seem to be apart of living in our modern world. The technician was a lovely woman who bubbled cheerful conversation and took such great care with me. In the moment where I was starting to feel claustrophobic and a bit panicky, she made a little joke about something completely off subject. She probably didn’t know I was about to panic on her, or maybe she did, but it made all the difference in the world. I was immediately able to relax.

You see, I had a similar, though less invasion test a few months before. That technician was not friendly or cheerful. In fact, he made troubling sighs as he did his tasks, making me feel like something was desperately wrong.

What a difference between these two experiences! The simple gift of cheerful banter and a hopeful story about her granddaughter completely changed my perspective. She wasn’t flippant in her conversation. No promises were made. She didn’t irresponsibly give me information about what she was seeing in the tests. But her cheery disposition and kindness opened a window. A window to hope.

Don’t you want to be a window opener? Helen Keller once wrote, “Who shall dare let his incapacity for hope or goodness cast a shadow upon the courage of those who bear their burdens as if they were privileges?” It can work both ways. My lovely technician was shining brightly through her everyday tasks as though they were privileges. I was blessed by her and immediately wanted to reciprocate, because a fresh breeze of hope was flowing through that exam room on both of us.

Day Three: Soaring

31 Days Relishing Hope

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.” Psalm 62:5

I just read that verse over and over, letting it wash over me like a prayer.

Make it true, Lord. Make it true. Because on my own, I will run around in circles and make plans and really long lists. These plans and lists are nothing without You, because I am nothing without You. So, even in this I need your help. Quiet me down. Help me to surrender, and place all my hope in You.

Because, dear friends:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Soar today, friends, soar!

 

Day Two: Cherishing With Anticipation

Cherishing with Anticipation. How to hope by cherishing a desire with anticipation

One dictionary definition of hope is “to cherish a desire with anticipation.”

Anticipation tends to be a loaded concept. I have friends who love anticipation so much. They try to build it up around everything. To them, it almost doesn’t matter what the “thing” is; the anticipation is the part they enjoy. These are the people that make paper chains for their kids, counting down the days until Disneyland. They have also been known to drive for hours, without telling the kids where they are going. Or, if your like my husband, you make your poor fiancee pack a cold weather suitcase and a warm weather suitcase, so that your honeymoon destination can stay a surprise.

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Anticipation can be fun, but it can be also painful.  It can be especially painful in those times where we find ourselves holding on to the promise of better, for a long, long time. In those times, don’t you want to give up on the hoping? Don’t you find yourself saying, “I don’t really care. Whatevs.”

When you find yourself in that place, you are no longer hoping. Remember, hoping is to cherish a desire with anticipation.  When the parent glues all the paper strips together for their child, they are teaching their child to celebrate the cherishing. It’s like throwing a little party for the waiting.  They tell their kids, “Every day for thirty days, we will stop and take off a strip, and every day we will know we are closer to our family vacation.”

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These parents know a couple of secrets. First, they know that their kids will need a visual reminder of how many days there are until their trip, because kids don’t always know how days work. But, aren’t we grownups the same way? I’m not quite sure how a stressful Monday, at work, slowly meanders its way to five o’clock, while a lazy Saturday morning races to noon. If I had a paper chain for all the goals in my life, I might be able to cherish the anticipation longer. Wouldn’t you? Only three more red ones and two yellows!

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These parents also know that the cherishing actually increases our capacity to desire.  If your trip to Disneyland is just another weekend in September, you’ve lost a part of the gift. If we find ourselves rushing towards our goals in a way that does not stop to cherish, we will find ourselves reaching goals we no longer care about. You know, like in that one movie? Or twenty?

So how do we continue to cherish a desire with anticipation? I would love to hear your thoughts. For me, the most dangerous thought I can think is, “Whatevs.” As soon as I turn off the cherishing and desiring, I can get lost in passivity. What about you?

Day One: 31 Days Relishing Hope

31 Days Relishing Hope. Because we want hope to fill our days.

Welcome! This is my landing page for 31 Days Relishing Hope. Through the month of October, I’ll be adding a link to every post here. So, if you want to read day one, scroll down. Thanks for visiting! So good to have you!

Day Two: Cherishing with Anticipation

Day Three: Soaring

Day Four: Fresh Hope

Day Five: Healing Hugs of Hope

Day Six: Emily Dickinson on Hope

Day Seven: Hope Sings Off-Key

Day Eight: Helen Keller, A Life of Hope

Day Nine: Life Lessons from Helen Keller

Day Ten: Hope from Learning

Day Eleven: Hope from His Mysterious Plan

Day Twelve: Some Words of Hope from the Internet

Day Thirteen: When All Around My Soul Gives Way

Day Fourteen: One Who Stands in the Thick of the Whole Thing

Day Fifteen: A Lot of Hope is Dangerous

Day Sixteen: One Way to Kill Hope

Day Seventeen: Stories of Hope

Day Eighteen: When Things Crowd In

Day Twenty-One: In Case You Find Yourself Looking for Hope Today

Day Twenty-Three: Going on a Hope Hunt

Day Twenty-Four: We’re Squinting in a Fog

Day Twenty-Seven: How Did You Get That?

Day Thirty-One: When Trusting Brings Hope

Because hope takes muscle and discipline. Hope is not soft. It is in the underlining of every athletic uniform. It is in the steel girding of all the magnificent bridges. It is in the pause of the Nobel Laureate’s comma.

It is the reason the jockey brings his horse to the gate. It is the reason the exhausted parent stays up to watch the newborn breathe. It is the beginning of all the hard things ever done, ever.

I am not an expert hoper. I get weary and my hope starts to slip away, until I am left with the ache of carrying too many burdensome days. Do you know that ache? Have you ever reached for the snooze button, hope depleted, with the weight of too many days already on your shoulders?

For the next 31 days, I want to explore Hope. What is it? How do we keep it alive? Who did it well? I would love to have you join me as we learn all we can about hoping!

Do you always flip your cushions to the good side?

I’ve spent the better part of today cleaning a love seat that I rescued from a moving neighbor. It’s so cute, and funky, and vintage. It’s probably as old as I am with its bright yellow and green leafy pattern. I’m in love with it!

As I was cleaning both sides of the cushions, I noticed that both cushions, have a newer, less stained side. The side you would flip over for company. But I wanted to clean both sides. Partly, because my children throw cushions on the floor for play and fort building. But also, I because I wanted the entire couch to be clean and good smelling. Then, I thought that I would like to keep the “not-so-good” side of the cushions up, most of the time. That way, I won’t have to worry about the kids and all the havoc a family of five can wreak.

This got me thinking, do I live the kind of life where my good side, my company side, always has to be flipped out? Or, do I have a comfier, more well worn side, that I can switch to when I’m in the company of family and close friends? With the cushions, it seems like a whole lot of responsibility to keep the good side good. And, what is the point of that?

Since I’ve devoted my whole day to cleaning the couch, I can tell you that it is all equally clean. This is really just more of an image thing, a pride thing, if you will. Of course, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the good sides of the cushions. In fact, the hospitable thing is to put them out for company. I always want to give my company the best that we have to offer, out of love. But, I heard a warning from my funky, cute couch.

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If I always need to have the good side up, I will be exhausted. Just like the poor cushions. The good side will get so worn and need more cleaning. But, if I take the time to let down, and flip my cushions to the comfier “no-pressure” side, I will be living more of the kind of life I want to live. The life where it is okay to build forts and play. How about you? Is it hard to let your more worn side out?

Meals Shmeals

Hi Friends! This post is mainly for my mom friends. Yesterday, we had a discussion about meal planning. We were sharing all our ideas and the different recipes we love, but it is 2013, and we need links! So, I’m posting them all here. If you don’t care about meal planning, just ignore this one.
someecards.com - Do they really have to eat dinner every single night?
This woman changed my life with her google calendar meal planning tutorial! I have all our dinners on my phone, people, my phone!

How to Use Google Calendar to Create a Menu

Here are a bunch of our favorite go-to salads:

Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad : Easy to make spinach/chickpea salad.

Mediterranean Grain Salad : Simple bulgar salad. Could omit goat cheese to make vegan.

Amazing Quinoa Salad : This one is our favorite. We even make this for dinner guests.

Easy Avocado Lime Black Bean Salad : Similar flavors as the Amazing Quinoa, but much easier to make.

Pineapple Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula and Walnuts : Okay, this is just yummy! My cousin made this one at Thanksgiving and it has been in the mix ever since. We have walnut allergies, so we use pecans. Still yummy!

Here are some of the crock pot freezer meals, I’ve made:

Crock pot freezer meals : We can vouch for the Chicken Taco Soup, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and the Sausage and Bean Supper.  We have tried them and liked them. I sent the Chicken Taco Soup over to my in-laws and they REALLY liked it (the secret is in the beer :)).

Some things we have liked in the breakfast realm:

Hootenanny : The taste of pancakes but you don’t have to do all that flipping. One pan.

 Rise and Shine Healthy Muffins  I bake two batches of these muffins and then freeze them. The kids pull them out and microwave them for breakfast or for an afternoon snack. I don’t know why I bother freezing them, they don’t last more than a couple of days.

Some other tips that have helped us:

Shredded Chicken: I buy a big thing of chicken breasts and put them in my crock pots with cut up carrots, celery, onion, a couple cloves of garlic and seasonings. At the end of the day, I shred the chicken and put it in freezer bags. We use this for quick dinners of nachos, chicken quesadillas, salsa verde chicken burritos. I also strain the broth and load my freezer up with a ton of chicken stock.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup : Really cost effective, crowd pleaser! It’s a guilty pleasure soup with cream cheese and bacon, but, man, is it tasty!